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Discounter Discoveries – What’s new in Aldi

To match the post on March’s Wine Tour promotion at Lidl, here is my “mirror image” review of what’s new in Aldi.

That company prefers a drip feed approach to new products introducing, for example, a Glitter Globe Gin Liqueur (at £12.99) this weekend as one part of a major overhaul of its spirits offerings.

My Aldi based Discounter Discoveries post, consequently, seeks to brigade the retailer’s newest wines into a single feature and tell you which ones floated my personal boat.  

As always, my selections try to negotiate that value tightrope between price and quality that drive so much of what both premium discounters do well.

Aldi’s latest arrivals include some especially promising reds so that is where I have concentrated today – white wine will have its day as the summer progresses.

As ever – where pictures and hyperlinks are available, they have been added to the text to help you find and, possibly, buy the wine concerned.

Speaking, as I was, of summer

Very hot weather and weighty red wines do not work well together so here are a couple of reds with lighter textures and the first one involves a common grape in Argentina, but one seldom seen outside it – criolla grande.

Normally more likely to appear as a rosé, here the grape is used for red wine and – despite containing a tiny proportion of malbec – the result is so light that it works best gently chilled.

Perfumed and nutty, Mendoza’s 2020 Buenas Vides Argentina Criolla (£5.99 at Aldi and 13.5% abv) has soft blackcurrant and cherry flavours with allspice components in the background and bright acidity, little tannin and, as I say, the lightest possible texture.   

And another summer special

Heading to Europe now, we find an almost equally light Sicilian option that steps up from its usual role as an “aroma adding” blending partner to create delicate red wine that Oz Clarke seems to suggest could be a type of “merlot-lite”.

Dark and aromatic, 2020 Castellore Italian Frappato (£6.49 at Aldi and 13%) delightfully compensates for its limited texture and minimal tannin by providing real depth within its black cherry and plum flavours and by adding a herb and spice backdrop with nippy acidity.

Back to something more traditional

Last week, I praised Languedoc’s take on a classically South West France variety – malbec – but shall now do something similar with the same producer’s take on that Rhone specialism – GSM.

Herbal with liquorice, mint and chocolate liqueur overtones, 2019 Specially Selected French Grenache Syrah Mourvedre (£6.99 at Aldi and 13.5%) embellishes its cherry, blackberry and mulberry flavours with good acidity, balanced tannin and a slate influenced mineral finish.

Next to a couple of big reds

Adopting the same “South America and Italy combination” as applies to the criolla grande and frappato already discussed, Aldi has introduced a couple of high alcohol, powerful reds that will suit barbecued meats perfectly.

Like malbec and carmenere, tannat is a French grape variety that has set up home with considerable success in South America but in its case the ideal region proved to be Maldonado in Uruguay – on the seaward side of Montevideo.

Inky dark yet smooth and supple, 2019 Specially Selected Uruguayan Tannat (£6.99 at Aldi and 14%) brings us rich plum flavours that are ably supported by firm acidity, balanced tannin and touches of aniseed, cedar and tarragon.

And the other one

Tannat’s partner in this duo is a typically rugged and powerful Italian choice from the Basilicata region south east of Naples using the weighty, intense (and seriously under-rated) aglianico grape.

Intense and smoky, 2017 Specially Selected Aglianico del Vulture (£6.99 at Aldi and 14%) delivers full and meaty black cherry, mulberry and damson flavours with modest acidity, chewy tannin and suggestions of clove, fig and coconut. 

And to an on-line option

If you need to appease Bacchus because you missed last Saturday’s World Malbec Day, this (darker and denser than the most popular versions) malbec is just the vehicle – but it is currently one of Aldi’s “online only” options.

Weighty and smooth, Mendoza’s 2019 Cocodrilo Argentinian Malbec (£9.99 and 14%) builds a hint of early sweetness around its damson and mulberry flavours and then powers through to a prune featured savoury finish that also contains good acidity, balanced tannin and suggestions of vanilla and mocha.

Let’s switch to rosés now

My recent review of Eastern Europe gave a firm steer towards the Romanian white made for Aldi by the acclaimed Cramele Recas operation and here is its sister rosé – made from an auspicious cocktail of grapes that includes merlot, cabernet sauvignon and feteasca neagra.

Pale and delicate, 2020 Dealuri Romanian Rosé (£4.99 at Aldi and 12%) brings us crisp raspberry and red currant flavours with acidic freshness yet a neatly contrasting savoury backdrop too.

And thence to Spain

Unlike France, Spain does not have a “go to” rosé region but, if asked to nominate the most obvious candidate for that title, Rioja will not top many lists.

However, Rioja is not only the No.1 Spanish region for foreign trade in rosé wine but it actually produces over twice as much rosé for export as the next highest region; this half-and-half garnacha and tempranillo blend helps to illustrate why.

2020 Specially Selected Baron Amarillo Rioja Rosé (£6.99 at Aldi and 13%) builds those delightful crab apple and cherry flavours rosé does so well into a light texture that, nevertheless, contains clove and eucalyptus elements enlivened by modest mandarin orange acidity.  

Can’t go without adding a little sweetness

Boosted by its success with icewine, Ontario in Canada has recognised that geology and climate has made its wine growing area especially successful with riesling.

Here is an engaging example of what it produces although, with 22 grams of residual sugar per litre, it is getting towards the top end of what can legitimately be called “off-dry”.

Soft and with discernible (but proportionate) sweetness, 2019 The Falls Riesling (£9.99 online only from Aldi and 10.5%) combines red apple, pear and peach flavours with gentle grapefruit acidity and hints of honeysuckle.

Let’s meet again – on Monday – when I take my weekly look at supermarket promotions and reveal my latest Top Tips. Hope to see you then.

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David Cronin

Thanks Brian, great list as ever, both Aldi and Lidl are excelling atm, there’s a few here that tick my boxes, notably the Tannat, Aglianico, GSM and Malbec I’ll be sure to check them out. My experience with Frappato has been mixed perhaps a little on the light side for me although this one sounds like it has a little more (as you suggest) depth. Still got a few Rosés in stock but I must admit the Spanish Amarillo appeals, I’ve tasted some pretty good Spanish Rosés lately, so I’ll sneak a bottle into my basket.
On a side note I was in Lidl again yesterday and picked up some more of the excellent ‘Bastide Miraflors’ one of the better sub £10 reds I tasted for a while.

Brian Elliott

Thanks Dave. Be interested in your thoughts on those you mention – especially the Aglianico. Your are spot on right about that Lidl red – terrific fare.

Eddie Walker

Brian … such a coincidence … we opened a bottle of the Criolla last evening. My wife appreciated the lightness of it more than I did but it went well enough to pair with some left-over mousaka and drink it liberally. I have the Frappato ready for the weekend and indeed already had bought further bottles of the exceptionally nice Uruguayan Tannat that I’ve enjoyed comparing with your Malbec Co op selection of last week … another excellent choice. Next week’s shop will include the Romanian rose … shades maybe and memories of 70s Hirondelle, and the Aglianico del Vulture that I’m certain I will enjoy for all the best Italian reasons. Cheers now .. Eddie.

Brian Elliott

Obviously great minds think alike Eddie at least as far as the Criolla is concerned. As you imply, you do need to appreciate lighter reds to get the most from that one – and, to a lesser extent, from your weekend Frappato. You may not be setting the bar very high using Hirondelle as a yardstick but I think you will enjoy both the rosé and, especially the aglianico.

Matthew Walkley

Fantastic range of very tempting wines at great prices. What’s not to love about this article. A trip to Aldi beckons!

Brian Elliott

Kind words and much appreciated. Thank you Matthew and I hope you find some really enjoyable bottles when you get to Aldi … Brian

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